In the meantime, another new friend from Palenque accepted my invitation and came to New York. This was Charity the fire dancer. Twenty-four years old, skilled at Tarot and ceremonial magic, a professional stripper, she was the fearless and pixie-like embodiment of the new culture I had found at Burning Man. In Mexico, I told her I could find her a free place to stay in New York, and she hitchhiked all the way from Palenque with her cat, Prometheus, catching rides from truckers at truck stops. Unlike me, Charity had no fear of new psychedelics. She kept a list of all the drugs she had tried, and the number was up to 43. I told her I had this DPT stuff around, and of course she wanted to try it.

Charity cut two big lines of the DPT on the table, and I snorted one. The powder burned my nasal passages. Bitter residue dripped down the back of my throat. I stretched out on the couch. In a minute or two, I closed my eyes and entered the DPT realm.

Charity and I took DPT at my house one night—once again, I had to overcome an intense initial reluctance. Finally I put some of the yellowish powder into a pill and swallowed it, but got no effect. She sniffed a line, and

almost instantly went into a trance. When her trip was over, she told me I had to try sniffing it.

For a flicker of forever, I was imprisoned in a post-modern bar surrounded by gleaming mirrors with a hyper-slick lounge lizard wearing a white Mohawk and synthetic fabrics. He was sitting at the bar, drinking a highball. DPT was a post-modern demonic MTV psychedelic.

Sometimes, when one trips, it seems that all of the psychic matter, whether spoken or not, swirling around in the hours and days beforehand, gathers together, like particles galvanized by a magnet, and pushes the journey in a certain direction. These influences can seem like the karmic trace of some larger pattern. On many levels what seems to operate is a specific intentionality. Earlier that night Charity had told me about the “psychic vampires” who roamed the streets of San Francisco, some of them homeless hippies, who would pick up vibrations from strangers, talk to them, and suck their energy away. I laughed at this. We also talked about the books of Zacharia Sitchen, whose scholarly research convinced him that a race of extraterrestrial giants had created human beings, long ago, to serve them as staves—a variation on the concept of the “Archons” from Gnosticism. According to Sitchen, the beauty and sophistication of the cruel alien race that created us was beyond our imagining.

Charity cut two big lines of the DPT on the table, and I snorted one. The powder burned my nasal passages. Bitter residue dripped down the back of my throat. I stretched out on the couch. In a minute or two, I closed my eyes and entered the DPT realm.

We were listening to moody Techno music. With each change in beat, with each skitter of electrical noise, I saw a brand new and extremely detailed demonic universe swirl before me in cobalt, scarlet, purple gossamer hues. At moments there seemed to be some incredibly elegant yet violently orgiastic party taking place with beautiful females in evening gowns and men in Edwardian top coats in the spacious parlors of a huge and opulent mansion. At other times there seemed to be bat or butterfly-winged creatures—long and quivering antennas, velvet coats and emerald eyes, stiletto talons—rising into otherworldly skies, wandering futuristic cities. I had an impression of tremendous vanity. “I” was being used as a mirror for the DPT beings to

admire themselves. But their realm was beyond what can be expressed in ordinary language in its speed of transmutation, its shivering quicksilver beauty.

The worlds revealed were like endless facets of a twirling diamond—I felt the real possibility of being trapped inside any of those facets, a kind of soul- prison, for eternity. That was the terror of it. As with smoking Salvia, I had the sense that some part of me had always been stuck in this Gothic DPT prison, trapped there eternally. I somehow understood that this was not my first visit, nor my last.

For a flicker of forever, I was imprisoned in a post-modern bar surrounded by gleaming mirrors with a hyper-slick lounge lizard wearing a white Mohawk and synthetic fabrics. He was sitting at the bar, drinking a highball. There were no doors or windows in this room, no escape possible. The graphics of this vision were high-res and hyper-perfect. Other shards of the DPT realm shared this sci-fi quality. DPT was a post-modern demonic MTV psychedelic.

The sleek, rhythmical mesh of the music seemed woven into the lurid fabric of the darkness, the revelation of sinister forces coming to life behind my eyelids.

Like DMT, the level of visual organization of the DPT realm seemed far beyond anything that the synaptical wiring of my brain could create—it was, in its own peacock-feathery way, not just as real as this reality, but far more real, crackling with power. I felt from the entities exploring my mind a kind of contempt, a disdain for human beings trapped in our pitiful unsophisticated domain, our meat realm. They seemed somewhere between bemused and enraged.

In shamanic cultures, the taking of entheogenic substances is always surrounded by ritual. A circle of protection is created, the four directions invoked, the spirits asked for their blessing through an offering of tobacco and prayer. Because we were sniffing a chemical powder in a modern New York apartment, a chemical without a long history of human use, it didn’t even occur to us to take such precautions. I was jealous of Charity because she managed to get to the kitchen sink and throw up. She vomited four or five times in a row—later she said she saw a male entity in the sink with a kind of device or machine that he was using to soak up the energy she was expulsing,

jeering at her as he did it. The demon told her his name but she couldn’t recall it. I couldn’t throw up. I suspected that I had finally, and completely, managed to destroy myself. I was convinced I would never recover from this onslaught. I staggered to the CD player and changed the music to Bach, which helped a little. With my eyes opened, transformational energy seemed to be crawling over everything, flickering and receding like waves of sentient power—vampiric electricity. My hands looked and felt like claws made out of wires. When I opened my eyes on ayahuasca, I also felt and saw energy passing like a waveform, but it was more human somehow. Here the speed of the waves was much faster and more brutal than the yagé flares. The experience was unmammalian, futuristic, inhuman.

About half an hour into the trip, past 3 a.m., I called my friend Tony. “This is total magic, total sorcery. I am watching endless Gothic demon universes mirroring each other,” I babbled to him.

Not only was it suddenly obvious that there was such a thing as a soul, it was also clear that I was in danger of losing mine permanently.

I somehow understood that the DPT realm had evolved over an incredibly long period—millions of years, if time had the same kind of meaning to them as it does to us. I realized there were occult hierarchies, secret cabals, treasuries of wickedness to be studied over millennia. It was obvious that we little human beings have absolutely no idea what is going on in the cosmos. The word “baroque” doesn’t even begin to begin to describe the jaded emptiness and sublime beauty of that other country. A little bit like soft candle-flicker worlds you see on hash and opium, but etched in perfect solid- state reality—more than photographic. The sleekness of the DPT dimension was beyond belief.

About half an hour into the trip, past 3 a.m., I called my friend Tony.

“This is total magic, total sorcery. I am watching endless Gothic demon universes mirroring each other,” I babbled to him. “If someone could be at home here, learn to control things here, they could gain so much fucking power they could just walk right through the walls of the White House, do anything, but it wouldn’t matter, because they would already be part of such an ancient conspiracy.” I had begun to pace around the house, and as I paced, I found that I was moving my arms in the air—making “passes” like the

shamanic gestures described in Castaneda’s work. These gestures came to me intuitively. They seemed to help control the overwhelming sense of assault.

“Daniel, don’t be taken in by it. It’s just samsara,” Tony said. His voice was a soothing lifeline. He laughed at me. He tried to convince me that the trip would end soon, that I wasn’t permanently fried. He told me I should have known what I was doing, since I had called DPT “evil” after my first attempt.

“What’s that music you’re playing in the background?” he asked.

“Bach,” I told him. “It’s the only thing that’s keeping me together. Perhaps that’s why they are here; the demons are attracted to the music. They are crowding in here to be close to it.”

“Well, that’s nice,” he said.

“There’s nothing nice about that!” I screeched at him. “They are totally defiant. They don’t give a shit about us; we are their puppets.”

But at this point the trip was starting to wind down. In a few minutes Charity and I were back in “reality” once again—whatever that figment might be. I felt incredibly relieved. “Wow, I can’t believe it,” I said to Tony. “Reality— this is definitely a good thing!”

In the next few days, however, I learned that I wasn’t quite back in reality after all—or if I was, it was a new, hyper-charged one.

I was supposed to leave to meet my girlfriend in Berlin the next day. In the morning my travel agent came up with a cheap last minute ticket. On the plane, I sat next to a German woman dressed in elegant black. I was reading The Invisible Landscape by Terence and Dennis McKenna, and I noticed she seemed startled after she read a few words from the back cover over my shoulder. She had read the word “shamanism.” Halfway through the flight, she told me she had been having a series of dreams over the past months in which two American Indians, a couple, came into her house and told her that she was meant to be a shaman, that she wasn’t supposed to get married. She was meant to devote herself to shamanism totally. The dreams mystified her. She had never thought about shamanism and she had no idea what it was. “Do you know anything about it?” she asked.

I tried to explain the basics of shamanism and gave her the names of some books to read. Also I told her what I believed—what I had learned from

Robert: “The Indian cultures have been almost wiped out, but shamanism is an essential human phenomenon connected to the earth. Right now, the shamans of the past are looking for candidates who can carry on the traditions. They have zeroed in on you as a possible candidate. You can choose to follow this or ignore it, but I definitely recommend that you learn more about it before making a decision.”

The woman had a tribal pendant around her neck—on it was a pattern of lightning-like zigzags around a central circle—and I asked her about it. “Somebody gave this to me on a beach in Mexico,” she said. “They said it was a Navajo protection symbol.”

In shamanic cultures, synchronicities are recognized as signs that you are on the right path.

I do not think the world is orchestrated as a paranoid conspiracy designed to entertain my wildest fantasies. Yet I had an intuitive, uncanny sense that this symbol had been sent to me—to show me that I was being protected, somehow, that I was being taken through a process. Even though I was freaking out, I had to trust that the process was good. In shamanic cultures, synchronicities are recognized as signs that you are on the right path.

I was in Berlin because Laura’s father had been stricken with cancer. The entire family was assembling for the weekend. Because Laura was pregnant and wouldn’t be able to travel later, she was staying with her parents for several weeks.

Whenever I was left alone, I found myself walking around the house and making conducting gestures again. I was afraid I was becoming some sort of obsessive-compulsive, but I could control the gestures when other people were around. One night, I couldn’t sleep.

With my eyes closed, I watched vivid imagery unfold in little film loops—I saw a huge column of fire shooting up from the center of Stonehenge. I envisioned myself walking into the flame column, being obliterated and shooting up into space. Then I saw the surface of another planet, covered in coral and sponge-like growths. A smirking alien was standing next to one of the sponges, and he kept flowing through the organic folds of the plant, then reassembling himself. He and the plant were fused in magical symbiosis.

Finally I fell asleep. I dreamt of a boy standing in the woods, yelling over and

over again at the top of his lungs: “Long live ethnopharmacology!”

The next night, I had two extremely vivid dreams in which I was pursued by a bearded man. In one dream, I threw a party in an apartment where I once lived. Aggressive strangers showed up and stole my books from the shelves. A bearded man came up to me.

“I used to live here,” he said.

“Do you want to come back?” I asked. “Yes,” he said.

Back in New York, I still felt very strange—fizzy and non-ordinary, with a buzzing around the temples. It was my second night at home and I was jet- lagged. Ten minutes after I turned out the lights and got into bed, a large mirror in the other room fell off the wall and loudly crashed face down on the floor. It didn’t break.

All night I dreamt that the bearded man was hitting me in the head with a pillow over and over again, and laughing as he did it. I tried to hit him back but my swings were feeble misses.

When I awoke in the morning, feeling groggy, I went to get a yogurt from the refrigerator. I opened the tightly closed silverware drawer and reached for a spoon. Right under the spoons was a large and ominous bug. It did not look like a New York bug at all—it was winged, honey-brown, with a long curly tail, and it quickly wriggled out of sight.